Tonight was a potentially historic night in the modern history of the United States. Donald Trump won the Indiana Primary tonight, but more importantly, Senator Ted Cruz, Trump’s most fervent challenger, suspended his campaign.
This leaves Donald Trump as the presumptive nominee – confirmed by RNC chairman Reince Priebus:
— Reince Priebus (@Reince) May 4, 2016
Of course, John Kasich is still involved, but at the time of this writing he is literally fourth in a two man race. It doesn’t get more pathetic than that, and his official elimination is but a formality at this stage.
The focus now shifts to the general election, but before giving my early take, I think it’s instructive to examine my own path to the #TrumpTrain.
I’m generally a minimal government, pro free market type of guy, and as such I’ve had little to pick from in the elections I’ve been old enough to vote in. When the 2016 process got going, I was resigned to going with Rand Paul, a guy who had a good background, being Ron Paul’s son, but ultimately was lukewarm in terms of the ‘oomph’ needed to rally people around him and embrace his ideas.
Paul did have a small sliver of fervent grassroots, Tea Party types, most of whom he inherited from his father, but beyond that he was very much a lone wolf doing his best to fight against the system from within it. I knew he had little chance, but I still stayed interested in the event a miracle happened.
I had little time for candidates such as Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Rick Perry, and even Chris Christie, all of whom I saw as ‘more of the same.’ More of the Mitt Romney/McCain/Bush/Dole set, whom the US electorate as it stands in 2016 has no time for. I posited that if one of those ‘establishment’ types won the nomination, the Clinton coronation was all but assured, despite how poor a candidate she is.
When Trump announced his candidacy, I laughed him off like everyone else did. In truth, I knew very little about him; I never watched The Apprentice or read The Art of The Deal. I knew of him, only through his real estate empire and his status as a media figure. He’d have the odd interview on CNBC or CNN that I’d happen to catch in passing, but I wasn’t totally knowledgeable about him.
I believed the stock opinion about him that everyone put forth, namely that this was a publicity stunt, he was only doing it as promotion for a new TV show, and so on. I certainly didn’t take him seriously.
That all changed when Trump went after John McCain, and the whole row over Trump’s ‘war hero’ comment. I didn’t really care for the remark so much as the response to it from all involved. Nearly to a person, Trump was admonished. The liberals and conservatives, in all forms of the media and the candidates running, all called for him to apologize, and Trump refused. And his poll numbers went up.
My interest in Trump was piqued in that moment, simply because everyone I had come to disagree with over the years – liberal and conservative pundits, the aforementioned establishment candidates, John McCain himself – was united against Trump. That simple fact made me want to take Trump’s side.
That was in mid July 2015. During the final two weeks of that month, many commentators and pundits continued to attack Trump, declaring his candidacy over. While his steadfast defiance in the face of that assault was admirable in my view, I still had reservations about some of his views, and still do to this day.
At the time, I thought that Trump could be useful in the sense that, paired with a Rand Paul as running mate, for example, a lot of good could be done in the view of small government conservative types. My rationale was that Trump, being the showman that he is, would draw the American public under the tent.
Once there, he could sell the limited government, conservative principles that a guy like Rand Paul would be all about. In other words, Trump would filter through the message of Republicans like Paul so as to be more palatable to the American electorate. This was my hope in those late July days.
Then came the famous Fox News debate in August.
With the first question of the debate, Bret Baier asked the candidates if there was any one of them who would refuse to sign a pledge not to run as a third party candidate. Trump was the only one who raised his hand.
Then, Megyn Kelly asked him a loaded question about his relationship with women generally, pointing to some boorish remarks he had made on TV and on social media.
These questions, asked of the front-runner at the time, pretty much exposed the game to me. It looked like an attempted hit job, and it confirmed to me what the McCain episode had brought to my attention – the ‘establishment,’ as it were, was ALL aligned against Trump, even from within his own party.
In those first five minutes of that first Republican debate, I punched my ticket for the #TrumpTrain.
The rest of the debate was also memorable for the way Rand Paul tried extremely hard to take shots at Trump. He was totally out of his depth, and my hopes soured on his chances. When he dropped out of the race, it was of little surprise to me.
At that stage, I had fully understood what was going on. Donald Trump, while perhaps far form perfect, was the first candidate I’d come across that had the potential to affect true change. As I’ve intimated earlier, I’ve long been of the view that Republicans and Democrats were two sides of the same coin in many respects. I personally rejected that coin.
Trump is an enigma, a phenomenon that has not been seen in American politics in decades, perhaps ever. Many commentators have run themselves ragged trying to explain it, but to me it is clear as day. Trump represents the ‘reject the coin’ view that many Americans share, but so did past candidates such as Pat Buchannan and Ross Perot.
What separates Trump is his unparalleled skill in persuasion and charisma. I mentioned as much in an earlier post describing the cultural implications of a Trump presidency:
The combination of his wealth, business expertise, virtually 100% name recognition, multi decade exposure to the media and charisma has enabled Trump to dominate discussion. Once in that position, he has used it to put forth an unambiguously anti-Marxist, anti-establishment message, to the horror of the elites.
Scott Adams, known for his Dilbert cartoons, has done a great job describing Trump’s persuasive efforts in detail in a series of posts which has spanned the last 6 months or so. I’d highly suggest you read them, as they are instructive.
This is incredibly dangerous for those who want a Democratic president, especially if Hillary Clinton is going to be the nominee. Although at the time of this writing, many are suggesting that Clinton is the favorite, I don’t buy it. I believe Trump will win, and even go as far as to say that in the end it won’t be very close.
I say this because I believe that my own path to Trump support will be mirrored by millions by the time November rolls around.
Again from the Cultural Implications post I referenced earlier:
Consider that from 1980 to 2013, a member of either the Clinton or Bush family has been in the White House or among the President’s Cabinet. To the extent that the United States has deteriorated over that time, the establishment from both parties has directly overseen it. The bottom line is that modern day Republicans and Democrats are two sides of the same coin. Their continued underwhelming performance in service of the American people is leading many to repudiate the coin entirely.
Yet it is that establishment in politics, as well as the media, which has opposed Trump almost universally. Although he has addressed many of the realities facing Americans, Trump has been shouted down as racist, misogynistic, and Islamophobic. He has also been ridiculed as an unhinged, clownish bully.
There are two phenomena here, both of which have been waning of late, at least in my view. The first is the Red Team/Blue Team dynamic which has been exacerbated by cable news. I do believe that we’re entering an age when rigid political labels cease to matter, and people will care more about what ‘works.’
More importantly, the second phenomenon, Political Correctness Fatigue will set in. We live in a world in which the threshold to being called a bigot is crossed by correcting someone’s grammar. At some stage, normal human beings will tire of having normal human interactions being regulated by a handful of thin skinned individuals.
The only thing preventing the vast majority of normal people from making their disgust for political correctness known is the fact the PC Police is firmly in charge at the moment. If you step out of line, your employment could potentially be on the line. We’ve seen various reports of people being fired over things they’ve said on social media. PC mobs have even become proactive in tracking down the employers of miscreants on social media with the sole purpose of getting them fired.
In the current setting, nobody will speak up against overzealous social justice warriors. That angst has certainly been bubbling under the surface, as evidenced by the overwhelming anti-PC views espoused by those who post in comment sections all over the internet. It is telling that many of the politically correct set have closed down comment sections over the last 18 months in response.
Donald Trump is, in my view, the catalyst which will bring the backlash offline into the real world. His brash, anti-PC comments, which will surely persist, will continue to help him in the polls, let alone do him no harm. These ‘ABSOLUTE MADMAN‘ moments will serve as the ‘coast is clear’ signal for normal thinking people to log off the internet and speak freely in public.
Despite this, Clinton’s main strategy still will be to use the gender politics part of the PC machine, bludgeoning the public about how great it will be to have a female president. Her continued failure to see the light on this, and many other topics will cement her as the ‘establishment,’ old order, status quo candidate.
In being the epitome of Democratic establishment politics, Clinton mirrors the position Jeb Bush held for the Republicans. While beating her won’t be as easy as it was to beat Bush, Trump is still the ‘outsider’ candidate, running in an ‘outsider’ year. One only has to look at the way Bernie Sanders is running Clinton to the wire to understand this.
I don’t think this dynamic can be overstated going into the general election. Donald Trump is the candidate who represents change, change from the two party establishment which ha been so comfortable for nearly 40 years.
He’s won the Republican Primary without outside donors, without pandering to anyone but the American people, and without speaking in political tongues like any other candidate would have. This is going to present, perhaps for the first time in my lifetime, a real distinction between the candidates.
Ultimately Clinton will dispose of Sanders, owing to the fact that the establishment’s ‘unbound’ superdelegates are all in Clinton’s pocket, further highlighting the difference between her and Trump as the establishment insider. Where Clinton has an inbuilt advantage over Sanders, Trump had to fight off schemes of all sorts to prevent a contested convention. This will set up a battle royale for the presidency.
Political Correctness vs Reality > Feelings
Establishment vs ‘The People’
Feminism vs Traditional Values
Globalism vs America First
The importance of this election can’t be overstated.